La Dolce Vita

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In London this season Antonio Berardi restrained his often lustful female with a new sensuality, or sex with a brain, to put it directly. Reinforced by his architectural cuts, the body becomes sculpted by, among other elements, mesh windowpane embellishments, a seductive wink to the beholder. “They were lovely illusions,” as Dietrich murmured, and Berardi has seemingly embraced this approach, by breaking down the mythic art of the flirt, orchestrating coquettish figure-hugging pieces that demand a second glance, for a closer inspection will reveal their inherent mastery. Juxtaposing clusters of fabrics create alluring second-skins, from lamé to quilted silk jacquard to intricate grosgrain, tied up by meticulously byzantine hand painted chain embroidery.

This season Berardi, who also acts as Peroni’s Nastro Azzurro Ambassador, took us on an intriguing journey into the evolution of his aesthetic, abetting audiences to anticipate where exactly he will take it next time around. AW14’s enchantress was rooted by no-nonsense Rupert Sanderson boots, lacing legs that go all the way up, the perfect statement for a rousing collection, and perfectly aligned with his strictly no clothes allowed Peroni collaboration.

For the Italian drinks brand, partnering with tastemakers that embody Italian style is the core to the Peroni Nastro Azzurro brand, and since 2008, alongside Berardi, they have created a string of authentic Italianate accessories, devised for the discerning traveller, giving them the pleasure of touring in style. Berardi’s debut was ushered by 2009’s Valigia Peroni, the ultimate leather travel bag, inspired by the jet-set glamour of the 1960s – think Anouk Aimée behind Federico Fellini’s lens.

Following this, 2012 ushered in Bellagio by Antonio Berardi, a definitive S/S capsule collection, comprised of unisex tortoiseshell sunglasses, custom-built with a classic shape, lightweight his and her cover-ups and sportive tote bags, versatile to the nth degree, lined with neoprene, housed by superlative Italian leather.

The timeless summer staples conceived by Berardi stand as the quintessence of his appreciation for form, and yield to a sense of quality that speaks to the Italian attention to detail and passion for accessories, ultimately the unparalleled product of artisan craftsmanship.

Glass spoke with Berardi immediately after his AW14 presentation earlier this month during London Fashion Week, savouring every moment of consultation with the designer whose collaboration with Peroni sees him currently going from strength to strength.

This season you have nurtured a minimal streak, with refined embellishments, could you describe the thought process behind that?
I wanted the embellishment to be clever, I wanted it to highlight, so sometimes you saw embellishments on things because it was the line, which I found super sexy.

As sexy goes, the embroidered mesh is definitely a provocative choice, is that something you really enjoyed applying to this season?
We did the embroidery on mesh, so that you are covered where you need to be, but you saw the reality of it. I like that whole idea of peekaboo, the idea that you kind of want to touch, you might see something, but you never see too much! It’s the Catholic side of me that likes the idea.

So, in contextualising the collection, is it fair to say that your Sicilian roots have an effect on your work?
Always, there’s always that thing, I mean, hopefully I don’t do vulgar; I like the idea of suggestion.

The way you suggest sexuality through your garments is spectacular, could you elaborate on that?
Of course, women want to look sexy!

As human beings, however much, we dress for other people; otherwise I would be here in sweatpants! I think it’s more that – taking the restraint that we normally have and giving it the idea that things have movement, for instance, some of the jackets that look like they were flying away, and the skirts too. The peplums are really quite intricate, but soft as well, so even though they seemed incredibly three dimensional, there is softness too, you can sit in them!

The way in which you deliver your agenda is just great, what are your views on the industry today?
It’s one of those things that I have always done, once upon a time when I was young, you could flip from one thing to the other every season, I think now it’s ‘how do you make it flow, and how do you make it interesting’.

There’s no doubt that your sense of direction does indeed flow harmoniously, definitely when considering your collaboration with Peroni, who you have been working with since 2008. In your view, has it been a match made in heaven so far?
What’s amazing is they give me space, they let me work on things which are not fashion, if not, I think would be ridiculous.

 So far so good! Going back to your Sicilian roots, do they inform your work with Peroni?
Absolutely, it’s all based on craftsmanship, the best of Italian, heritage essentially, something that I am personally really close to.

It certainly sounds like an amiable partnership to say the least, was it that way from the get-go?
The thing is, they’re clever enough to say, yes absolutely. First of all it was the idea of doing clothes, which I instantly shot down, I don’t want it to ever seem like a promotion, you know, to sell beer. It’s about saying, this is the world we come from.

And what a world! Cultural beliefs and fashion have always had a fascinating relationship, don’t you think?
Exactly, that way it keeps it real, it works for them and it works for me; I never want it to look like a free gift!

What more can be said than La Dolce Vita, is that something which you like to hear?

by Liam Feltham